Barr and Morgan Attorneys and Counselors at Law
If you are looking for a lawyer who can provide you the personal attention combined with extensive experience and resources, contact us today about your case.If you are looking for a lawyer who can provide you the personal attention combined with extensive experience and resources, contact us today about your case. Gas Station Pump

PMPA Litigation – Petroleum Marketing Practices Act

PMPA Litigation of Termination or Non-Renewal Cases

One of Barr & Morgan's most important areas of practice is defending gasoline dealers from attempted terminations or non-renewals by their suppliers. We recognize that a termination or non-renewal letter can be one of the most traumatic events of a dealer's life. We know that if the defense is not handled with the greatest care and skill, the dealer's business may well be at an end. It can be "life or death" for the business. We understand that your gasoline business or convenience store is probably the support for you, your family and many of your employee's families.

Almost every PMPA case will require you to seek Injunctive relief in United States Federal court. Unfortunately, there have been many unhelpful Court decisions across the country. The PMPA Lawyers at the law offices of Barr & Morgan are beginning to turn the tide and change "business as usual" for the oil companies.

In every case, you need to navigate the minefield created by bad old cases and create new tactics and strategies to gain success. You should bring a PMPA Lawyer with you who has been there before.

Barr & Morgan and its predecessor law firms have handled almost every reported Petroleum Marketing Practices Act (PMPA) in its home state, Connecticut. A.J. Barr and John J. Morgan have participated in the drafting of virtually every piece of PMPA legislation substantially effecting gasoline retailing in Connecticut. Barr & Morgan also has extensive litigation experience representing gasoline dealers for termination or non-renewal cases in Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. This history and experience simply cannot be duplicated and will be applied for your benefit. You want a PMPA attorney who has ready command of the issues as well as the rules (written and unwritten) that apply to your situation.

Contact Us

The PMPA law firm you choose to handle your case makes a difference. If your Gasoline franchise is at risk of termination or non-renewal and you have questions, contact the law offices of Barr & Morgan to speak directly with your PMPA Lawyer. We speak Spanish, are available for evening and weekend appointments, and are conveniently located between Bedford and Summer Streets in Stamford. We have off street parking on site. Contact us today at 203-356-1595 for a free initial consultation.

Client Testimonial

Summary of The Petroleum Marketing Practices Act (PMPA)

Title I of the Petroleum Marketing Practices Act (PMPA) sets certain requirements for the contracts between gasoline refiners or distributors and their retailers. It prohibits franchisors from terminating a franchise, or failing to renew one, except in accordance with its provisions. It is intended to protect distributors and retailers. A supplier may terminate a franchise only for certain reasons such as the franchisee's failure to make a good faith effort to carry out the terms of the franchise or if the supplier loses the right to grant use of the trademark under which the gasoline is sold. A supplier may choose not to renew a franchise for all of the reasons it may terminate a franchise and for certain other additional reasons. These include the franchisee's failure to agree to certain additional franchise terms or if the franchisee has a record of numerous customer complaints.

The PMPA preempts state laws concerning gasoline franchise termination and non-renewal.

Title II of the act requires sellers to disclose octane rating and Title III required the federal energy secretary to study fuel marketing subsidization and report to Congress in 1980.

Franchises

Title 1 of the Petroleum Marketing Practices Act (PMPA) defines "franchise" as the contract between (1) a refiner and distributor, (2) refiner and retailer, (3) a distributor and another distributor, or (4) a distributor and a retailer under which a refiner or distributor allows a retailer or distributor to use a trademark owned or controlled by the refiner or distributor in connection with the sale, distribution, or consignment of gasoline or another motor fuel. Under the act's definition, a refiner, distributor, jobber, or subjobber may be the "franchisor" and a jobber, subjobber, or retailer may be the "franchisee." Franchisors are commonly characterized as suppliers.

In general, the act applies to franchises with terms of three years or longer. It does not apply to trial franchises.

Rules for Ending a Franchise Relationship

The Petroleum Marketing Practices Act (PMPA) establishes substantive and procedural rules for ending a franchise relationship, including compensating the franchisee. The rules for terminating a franchise are narrower than those for not renewing one.

Termination

The Petroleum Marketing Practices Act (PMPA) allows a supplier to terminate a covered franchise (1) for noncompliance with a franchise agreement concerning a reasonable and important requirement, (2) for the franchisee's lack of a good faith effort to carry out the franchise's terms, (3) by mutual agreement, (4) if the supplier withdraws from the market area, or (5) for certain other reasons.

These other reasons include the franchisee's:
  1. Fraud or criminal action;
  2. Declaration of bankruptcy;
  3. Severe physical or mental disability lasting at least three months that renders the franchisee incapable of properly operating the premises;
  4. Failure to pay the supplier on time;
  5. Failure to operate the premises for seven consecutive days or for a shorter period if the failure is unreasonable;
  6. Intentional adulteration, misbranding, or mislabeling of the fuel;
  7. Failure to comply with relevant law; or
  8. Conviction of a felony involving moral turpitude.
They also include:
  1. Expiration of the supplier's underlying property lease,
  2. The property is taken through eminent domain,
  3. Loss of the supplier's right to grant the use of the trademark, and
  4. Destruction of the premises other than by the supplier.

Non-Renewal

Under the Petroleum Marketing Practices Act (PMPA), a supplier may choose not to renew a franchise for the same reasons that it may terminate one. It may also choose not to renew (1) if the franchisee fails to agree to changes or additions to the franchise; (2) if there is a record of numerous customer complaints relating to the condition of the premises or the conduct of employees; (3) for unsafe or unhealthful operations, or (4) the supplier has decided, in the normal course of business, (a) to change the use of the property on which the premises operates, (b) to materially alter or add to the premises, (c) to sell the premises, or (d) that continuing the franchise is uneconomical. In the case of a leased marketing premises, the PMPA requires the supplier, during the 90-day notice period, to make a bona fide offer to sell, transfer, or assign the premises to the franchisee or, if applicable, to give the franchisee a right of first refusal of at least 45 days of an offer, made by another, to purchase the franchisor's interest in the premises.

Compensation

The Petroleum Marketing Practices Act (PMPA) sets certain rules for compensating a franchisee when a franchise is terminated or not renewed. Generally, if termination or non-renewal happens after (1) the underlying property was taken through eminent domain or other governmental action or (2) the supplier lost the right to grant use of the trademark, the PMPA requires the supplier to fairly share with the franchisee any compensation received for loss of business opportunity or good will. If termination or non-renewal occurs because the premises was destroyed, the PMPA requires the supplier to give the franchisee the right of first refusal if the premises is rebuilt or replaced.

Procedural Rules

The PMPA's procedural rules require a supplier to give notice, usually 90 days, before taking any action. If 90-day notice is not possible, then a supplier must give notice as soon as he can. Notices must state the intention to terminate or not renew and the date the action takes effect. For certain grounds, the PMPA also requires the supplier to give the franchisee and opportunity to correct the problem. For example, if a franchise is being terminated or not renewed for failure to carry out the terms of the franchise, the supplier must inform the franchisee of the intention and give a reasonable opportunity to make good faith efforts to comply. The act also prescribes the method and form of giving notice.

Enforcement

The Petroleum Marketing Practices Act (PMPA) authorizes franchisees to sue in federal court to enforce the rights it establishes. Courts may grant equitable relief and must grant a preliminary injunction if the franchisee shows (1) that his franchise has been terminated or not renewed and that there are "sufficiently serious questions going to the merits" and (2) the court determines that, on balance, that the hardship imposed on the supplier by granting temporary relief is less than that imposed on the franchisee if relief were not granted.

The PMPA Preempts State Laws on Termination or Non-Renewal

The Petroleum Marketing Practices Act (PMPA) prohibits states and their political subdivisions from adopting or enforcing any law concerning the termination or non-renewal of a franchise unless its provisions are the same as the provision in the PMPA. Further, states may not adopt laws that require a goodwill payment on the termination or non-renewal of a franchise by a supplier.

The act states that it does not (1) authorize or prohibit a transfer or assignment of a franchise allowed by the franchise or by state law or (2) prohibit states from specifying terms and conditions under which a franchise may be transferred to a designated successor upon the franchisee's death.

Barr & Morgan — Representative PMPA Litigation Cases

  • 189 Connecticut Ave., LLC v. Melville Corp., 2009 WL 1537883, (D.Conn.)
  • 189 Connecticut Ave., LLC v. Melville Corp, D.Conn., 3:09cv00260 (Real Property - Rent/Eviction)
  • Bhinder v. Sun Co., Inc., 819 A.2d 822, (Conn. 2003)
  • Bhinder v. Sun Co., Inc., 717 A.2d 202, (Conn. 1998)
  • Bruce, ET AL v. Motiva Enterprises, D.Conn., 3:00cv01831 (Federal Statutes - PMPA)
  • C.C. Mase Inc v. CPD Properties Inc ET AL, D.Conn., 3:08cv01272 (Contracts - Gasoline Franchise)
  • C.C. Mase Inc ET AL v. Motiva Enterprises LLC ET AL, D.Conn., 3:03cv02265 (Federal Statutes - PMPA)
  • Ceraso v. Motiva Ent, LLC, ET AL, C.A.2, Feb. 4, 2002 02-7126 (Federal Statutes - PMPA)
  • Ceraso v. Motiva Ent, LLC, ET AL, D.Conn., 3:01CV00193 (Federal Statutes - PMPA)
  • Ceraso v. Motiva Enterprises, LLC, 326 F.3d 303, (2nd Cir.(Conn 2003)
  • Colony Farms of Colchester Inc v. New England Petroleum LP ET AL, D.Conn., 3:07cv00585 (PMPA Franchise Action)
  • Commissioner v. Kapadwala
  • Dunkin' Donuts Franchised Restaurants LLC ET AL v. Richmond Donut, Inc. ET AL, E.D.N.Y., 1:09cv00898 (Contracts - Franchise)
  • Febus v. Guardian First Funding Group, LLC, S.D.N.Y., 1:10cv02590 (Class action, Labor & Employment)
  • Harper v. Arnold Transportation Svc Inc ET AL, 3:04cv00479 (Torts/Negligence - Personal Injury - Motor Vehicle)
  • Hartford Gas Inc ET AL v. Motiva Ent, LLC ET AL, D.Conn., 3:09cv00070 (Torts/Environmental Law)
  • Hoyt Livery Inc ET AL v. Cherival ET AL, D.Conn., 3:08cv00500 (Intellectual Property - Trademark/Trade Name)
  • Horicka ET AL v. Attorney General ET AL, D.Conn., 3:06cv01839 (Prisoner Rights - Mandamus)
  • Kennynick LLC ET AL v. Standard Petroleum Co, D.Conn., 3:09cv00257 (Class Action Tax Fraud)
  • Kim v. International Nail & Spa Corp. II ET AL, D.Conn., 3:09cv00377 (Contracts)
  • Newbank v. International Nail & Spa Corp. II ET AL, E.D.N.Y1:09cv02106 (Contracts - Negotiable Instrument)
  • Pruitt v. New England Petroleum Ltd. Partnership, 2006 WL 3332773, (D.Conn. 2006)
  • Roll-A-Cover LLC v. Cohen ET AL, D.Conn., 3:09cv01378 (Business dispute - contracts)
  • Rudy's Limousine Service, Inc. v. Dept. of Transp., 826 A.2d 1161, (Conn.App., 2003)
  • Salaman v. BullockK ET AL, D.Conn., 3:05cv00876 (Prisoner Rights - Civil Rights)
  • Spadacinni v. Motiva Enterprises, LLC
  • Tasneen Gas, LL v. CPD Properties LLC ET AL, D.Conn., 3:09cv00308 (PMPA Action)
  • Tishio, John v. Peter J. Boccarrossa, Civil, Contracts, Conn.Super., FST-CV-09-5013034-S (Contracts)
  • Vernal, ET AL v. Amoco Oil, ET AL, C.A.2, 99-9383 (Federal Statutes - PMPA)
  • Vernal, ET AL v. Amoco Oil Company, ET AL, D.Conn., 3:98cv02280 (Federal Statutes - PMPA)
  • Western World Ins. Co. v. Architectural Builders of Westport, LLC, 247 F.R.D. 293, (D.Conn. 2008)
  • Western World Ins. Co. v. Architectural Builders of Westport, LLC, 520 F.Supp.2d 408, (D.Conn. 2007)
  • Western World Ins Co v. Architectural Builders of Westport LLC ET AL, D.Conn., 3:06cv01605 (Contracts - Insurance)
 

PMPA News

In The News
CSPnet.com: Next Round for Getty Realty
CSPnet.com: Getty Realty CEO Not Talking to Dealers
CSPnet.com: Dealers Seek Help, May Resurrect Divorcement Getty
CSPnet.com: Getty Issues Ultimatum to Dealers
CSPnet.com: Retailers Sue East Coast Distributor
Stamford Advocate: Small Gas Station Owners Say They Face Closures
Telegram.com: Gas Supply Drying Up at BP
CSNews.com: Dealers Consider Forming LLC to Negotiate With Getty Realty

From the Connecticut Capitol
OLR Bill Analysis: An Act Concerning Competition in the Motor Fuel Industry.
Connecticut General Assembly: Passes Discount For Cash Bill. Reduces Gas Tax.
Governor Rell: State Probing Gas Price Spikes at Gasoline Retailers.

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